Discussion – Male Characters in Shounen Manga Need Feminism in Order to Fight Without Unnecessary Handicaps

Honestly, it has gotten a little sickening.

Honestly, it has gotten a little sickening.


So, my friend Mike came back home for Spring break at a very awkward time. I don’t think that I knew anyone else that had their break when he did, but I definitely had to make time to see him. The thing is, whenever we get together, Mike and I have some really interesting conversations. One of those conversations inspired this article. We were talking about the current state of the Beelzebub manga and the mixed feelings that we have regarding the direction that it is taking. That led to a talk about how Oga has never fought any of the girls in the series even though said girls have not only challenged him, but are quite strong in their own regard. This is actually a pretty big issue. Why can’t good guys fight girls seriously in shounen manga? More often than not, current shounen series will boast extremely strong female characters on the good side that will kick ass regardless of the gender of their opponents. However, the popular series will cripple the male characters by making them avoid fights with women. Various excuses have been employed and all of this is kind of irritating. Guys need feminism too. How many guys get laughed at if they try to report sexual harassment? How many guys receive looks of derision from police officers when reporting abuse from their female partner? How many male characters in a manga series have to get beaten up or call for help because they can’t hit a girl? “Punch a girl in the face for feminism.” That was our quote of the day. Let me clarify something before we move on here, I am not endorsing the hitting of anyone male, female, or other in real life because violence is bad, but it should definitely be allowed in a manga series. There are plenty of strong females in both the real world and the world of manga. I may be quite the large individual, but I have no delusions that women are beneath me in the strength department. Have you seen the women’s UFC circuit? If that doesn’t tell you that girls are just as tough as boys, then you need to wake the fuck up. Here are some examples of the missteps that prominent mangakas have made and a few of the excuses that are thrown out there in order to something that should no longer be an issue.

BeelzebubRyuuhei Tamura

Oga is a little too apprehensive for a delinquent that is fighting demons.

Oga is a little too apprehensive for a delinquent that is fighting demons.

Since this is the series that started the conversation, we might as well kick things off with Beelzebub. Honestly, this seems like the kind of series where it would be fine to allow Oga to fight girls. The guy is either fighting demons or delinquents the entire time and he himself is a big time thug. I am not an advocate of beating up girls, but the way in which Ryuuhei Tamura avoids confrontation between Oga and the ladies pretty much sucks. First off, Oga was supposed to fight Aoi in order to take down the head honchos at his high school. He took down Himekawa, Kanzaki, and Toujou, but Aoi is a different story. This one didn’t even boil down to not wanting to fight a girl, we had love thrown out there. I mean, is it more offensive to have a serious fight with a girl or avoid said fight because she falls in love with the guy and can’t go through with it. It seems pretty sexist to think that the girl is going to instantly fall in love with the guy. Even when Aoi thinks that Oga has a wife and a kid, she still avoids taking the freshman because of her feelings. It almost feels like the gullible little girl part of Aoi’s character was

You have to have it both ways.

You have to have it both ways.

made just to avoid fights with good guys. Correct me if I am wrong, but she is a level-headed badass at all other times in the series. It just seems like a bad thing to do when your female characters are so strong. Hilda, Aoi, and many other girls that we have been introduced to can throw down with the best of them and the best way to show that is by not having the main character avoid fighting them.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi – Syun Matsuena

Even the bad guys aren't fighting girls.

Even the bad guys aren’t fighting girls.

I honestly feel like this is the most baffling case when it comes to the lack of gender equality. There was promise for things in the beginning. Not only was Kenichi saved by Miu on several separate occasions, but they spar with one another. I know that sparring is different from actually fighting, but I never would have thought that Kenichi would avoid fighting the female disciples. What sort of ridiculous mindset do you need to have in order to admit that you are outmatched by a girl, yet you refuse to fight girls and your reasoning is not that you don’t want to get whooped? Probably the worst part of this idiocy is the method that the writer chose in order to avoid altercations between Kenichi and the girls in the series. Renka falls in love with him, Chikage and Rachel befriend the group at school which limits fights, and Rimi ends up becoming Miu’s rival. You can’t really call the Kisara and Kaname matches fights due to the constant effort to avoid fighting that Kenichi exhibits in said matches. Even after all of that, none of the other male disciples get matched up with any girls. The most recent arc has given us same gender match ups all around. Even the Ryuuto and Kaname thing

I swear that they took away her staff just to avoid a good fight.

I swear that they took away her staff just to avoid a good fight.

resulted in a harmless lockup and conversation. For a series that boasts such strong female characters, there is a real lack of gender equality. Kenichi has yet to seriously fight a girl even though there are female masters running around. I am probably most disappointed by the way that Chikage is treated by Kenichi. The dude knows that she is tough, but she still gets the little kid treatment.

Naruto – Masashi Kishimoto

Well, I bet that he didn't foresee losing to the girl he just said that to.

Well, I bet that he didn’t foresee losing to the girl he just said that to.

It kind of hurts me that my favorite character is the person that shows off the Naruto cop-out for fighting girls. For those of you that are familiar with the series, Shikamaru is not only the one good guy that fights girls, but he does it a lot before the time skip. He fights Temari and the sound chick during the Chuunin exams and then Tayuya when they had to run after Sasuke. Shikamaru always says that fighting girls is troublesome, he says that everything is troublesome, but the very direct way in which he insults the idea of fighting girls should be considered offensive. Now, some of you may be saying that at least Shikamaru does fight girls. I will tell you that,it is kind of a lie. Given, the fights do go down, but have you ever seen Shikamaru strike a girl or even land a projectile during any of the fights in question. The fighting style that Shikamaru uses where he may or may not immobilize you is a cop-out to say the least. There are two female village leaders in Naruto, but good guys can’t hit a girl. I stress the fact that good guys can’t hit girls because bad guys can do whatever they want. That is the source of our other sexist fight in Naruto. Some of you may be

I guess that being a second class member of the clan can produce feelings like that.

I guess that being a second class member of the clan can produce feelings like that.

screaming at your screen because you know that Neji and Hinata had a very serious fight during the first round of the Chuunin exams. The only problem with that is the fact that they made Neji out to be a bad guy during that part of the story. Obviously, Neji is a good guy, but he was kind of an asshole during the Chuunin exams. The only way to allow for a mixed gender fight between good characters is to make the guy seem bad for a little bit. Although Neji’s attitude aided parts of the story, it just seems a little too convenient to throw out that fight during that arc of the story.

One Piece – Eiichiro Oda

Although it is a little brutal, this seemed nice until you found out what really happened.

Although it is a little brutal, this seemed nice until you found out what really happened.

Well, I said that I would be picking out popular manga series and there is no series that is more popular than One Piece. We all know that Sanji avoided fighting Kalifa because she was a girl. However, that is mostly due to the fact that Sanji’s character is written to be a classic gentleman with a ridiculous libido. The thing that bothers me is the fact that Zoro won’t fight girls. The dude grew up losing to Kuina, so you would think that he would respect girls enough to fight them. I wasn’t really thrown off when Zoro refused to fight Tashigi because that was mostly due to the fact that she reminded him of Kuina, but we finally got another example of Zoro’s prejudice. When Zoro fought Monet, it seemed like he cut her in half. This was crazy as hell because this happened right after Tashigi called him out for not fighting girls seriously. Well, the split was only temporary because Zoro didn’t use haki and Monet is a devil fruit user. Tashigi ended up having to

Don't try to hide the fact that you won't fight girls.

Don’t try to hide the fact that you won’t fight girls.

do what all female fighters in shounen manga do and finish the job. Usopp and Chopper never actually hit Miss Merry Christmas, Nami and Robin are always fighting girls, and I fear that the relationship between Nami and Lola will be the reason that Luffy never has to fight Big Mom. I know that the Strawhats are supposed to be good pirates, but Big Mom is one of the four emperors and fighting girls like her should’t make you a bad guy.

Not All Writers are Stuck in the Stone Age:

Fairy Tail – Hiro Mashima

Gray is messing her up.

Gray is messing her up.

Thank you Hiro Mashima. When it comes to strong female characters in shounen manga, Fairy Tail sets the bar pretty high. Erza and Mirajane can throw down with anyone and I can’t remember the last time that I saw Erza lose. However, that isn’t the focus of this article. We are here to talk about good guys being allowed to fight girls. Gray ends up fighting Ultear during the S-Class event and the best part about it was the fact that it wasn’t a big deal. Ultear is a strong enemy that was fucking shit up. Gray wasn’t having any of that shit and he fought her. There were some intense attacks thrown out as you can see from the first image and that was that. The fight slipped in seamlessly with everything else because the worst thing you can do is make a big deal out of it. Fairy Tail doesn’t force too many fights between good guys and girls. Also, they treat them like they are regular fights. There is that and the fact

Natsu sees no gender when it comes to an opponent.

Natsu sees no gender when it comes to an opponent.

that Natsu is constantly challenging everyone and everything to a fight. Are you a strong guy? Natsu will fight you. Are you a strong girl? Natsu will fight you. Are you an oddly capable animal? You better run because Natsu will not leave you alone until he beats you in a fight. Elfman had to fight Mirajane during the S-Class event and he should have got his ass kicked. Good job Hiro Mashima.

Final Say:

I couldn't beat these ladies in a fight.

I couldn’t beat these ladies in a fight.

If you want equality, then we need to have it on both sides. We have seen that shounen manga is pretty backward for the most part. There are tons of cop outs that authors employ in order to avoid equal opportunity fights. Grappling, being evil, having girls to take care of the other girls, and thinking that you shouldn’t hit a girl are all idiotic tools that writers use to avoid simply letting people fight. “Punch a girl in the face for feminism.” That is a phrase that is not meant to be violent. It is a statement that is requesting more writers to be like Hiro Mashima. Morgan Freeman once said that the best way to get rid of racism was to stop talking about it. Race will no longer be a thing when we stop letting it be a label. I feel the same way about gender discrimination in shounen manga. Hiro Mashima does it right. Don’t make a big deal about guys fighting girls. Don’t make the guys evil because fighting a girl doesn’t make you a bad guy. Don’t make your female fighters handle all of the other female fighters because that will make match ups far too predictable. For the love of God, do not make the guys take it easy on the girls. That is just rude. These are all examples from prominent shounen manga series and I am calling them out because they are the ones that have to set the example for everyone else. Let fighters fight and that is pretty much all I have to say about this.

Do not let this scene be the excuse for Luffy not fighting Big Mom.

Do not let this scene be the excuse for Luffy not fighting Big Mom.

5 responses to “Discussion – Male Characters in Shounen Manga Need Feminism in Order to Fight Without Unnecessary Handicaps

  1. Other than all the typos, this is by far the most interesting write up I’ve read from you bro(though you seriously should get someone to spellcheck your writing). I’d like to see this discussion paired up with the issues of sexism in American comic books. My knowledge on American stuff is pretty limited, but I’m obligated to feel like the problems in Japanese work is different from ones here. Considering things like the Hawkeye Movement I’m wondering whether these problems stem from similar social roots regarding feminism, or if it could be traced to a more cultural outlook.

    • Well, you were very right. I can’t trust spellcheck when I end up using the wrong words instead of misspelled ones.

    • Errors in spelling aside, you bring up a good point. The article that I wrote was simply based on patterns in popular shounen manga series that I have read and the way in whichI interpret their discrimination from a western standpoint. The topic does warrant more research. What do you think about all of this? I assume that you know more about the culture that matters in Japan than I do from all of those classes that you took.

    • Thanks for the Reblog and yeah, I tried to use examples from prominent series. I felt that it would have the most impact that way.

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